In her new book, Mena Suvari is getting candid about her history of abuse and addiction.
The “American Beauty” star speaks to People about The Great Peace: A Memoir, in which she discusses being sexually abused as a child and teenager.
“I was living a double life,” Suvari tells the magazine. “Every time I would go on a set. Every time I was interviewed, I was acting the whole time. It was another role for me to play. That I was okay.”
In the book, Suvari reveals, “Between the ages of 12 and 20 I was the victim of repeated sexual abuse.”
She explains that the abuse began in the sixth grade when she was raped by one of her older brothers’ friends.
“No, I don’t want to do that,” she recalls telling her abuser in the book. She says he raped her at his family home when she was just a month away from turning 13.
“Part of me died that day,” Suvari says. “He used me, had fun with me, and then disposed of me. He called me a whore. I never got to have a healthy expression of [sex]. My choice was lost. And that, compiled with already not feeling seen and heard, established a concept that I would have of myself. That that was my value.”
The actress describes turning to the rave scene as a teenager in order to escape her trauma, eventually getting into hard drugs.
“I turned to any form of self-medicating I could find, just to get by,” she says. “I was just trying to survive.”
She eventually met another man when she was 17, whom she says sexually abused her throughout their three-year relationship.
“I remember thinking maybe this is how relationships are: the screaming, the name-calling, the abuse,” Suvari says. “I felt like I had brought it all on in some way. From KJ to Tyler, it was a process of destruction.”
After breaking things off Suvari sought out therapy and other supportive friends, along with cutting drugs out of her life.
Now, Suvari is married to Mike Hope, whom she met in 2016 on the set of the Hallmark movie “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”.
“It was the first time I felt I wanted to have a family with someone,” she says. “I found out I was pregnant when I finished writing the memoir.”